From late summer into autumn, birds underwent their annual moult.

As a result, powers of flight became limited making them more vulnerable to predators, so they tended to skulk away and vocalisation was at a minimum. Now, resplendent in fresh winter plumage they are ready to face the world again and beginning to be more vocal in preparation for spring.

Robins have been singing for some time but now blue and greattits are uttering a few phrases. Blackbirds too voice their 'pink-pink-pink' alarm calls at dusk and it wont be long before they try a few tentative musical notes.

In November, I used to look forward to hearing the first songthrush, my favourite avian vocalist but for the last three years they have sadly been silent in my area. Then, on 21st of November shortly after dawn one began singing somewhere in the distance, a glorious melody which really cheered me up and served as a reminder that although winter looms, spring is not too far away and he has sung every morning since.

Two pairs of crows I watch are already roosting close to last year's nests and rooks are becoming restless.

Listening to birdsong is for many of us a most uplifting experience although of course it is not for our benefit but used essentially to defend territories and advertise for mates.

Nevertheless, I often wonder if birds sometimes sing for the sheer joy of it. An unscientific viewpoint perhaps and we will probably never know the answer to that.